How can I best unite operating systems from two hard drives and set them up to dual boot?

Tony November 10, 2010
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I have a system with Windows XP Media Edition 2005 on a SATA drive. I also have a PATA drive with Windows XP Professional on it.

If I set up an extra partition on the SATA drive and clone the PATA onto the new partition, what will I have to do to set it up as dual boot system? Failing this, if I install the PATA as a second hard drive, can I set up a dual boot system that way?

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  1. Tony
    November 24, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Thanks Smayonak
    I just may change my mind about dual boot. I am selling my old tower to a friend. They are using Win XP Pro and have a lot of programs they wish to keep. My old tower has Win XP 2005 Media Center Edition on a SATA drive. Their old drive is a PATA 40gig.
    Lots of thinking to do.

  2. Smayonak
    November 21, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Playing with your bootloader through the command line is a recipe for disaster, and although easily repaired, is a hassle to fix. If you're not proficient in editing GRUB (which is a great bootloader, BTW - thanks to James Bruce for mentioning it) then have at it. Since you asked this question, something tells me that you are seeking a simpler solution.

    First, I'm going to highly suggest that you do everything in your power to avoid setting up a multiboot system. They tend to be unreliable, hard to work with, and oftentimes take more time than you'd like to invest. It would be immeasurably simpler to copy your programs and data to the media partition and have it run as single partition system, or virtualizing the XP Pro installation. Multiboot is not my recommendation unless you absolutely, positively cannot live without it.

    If you are dead-set on a dual-boot, then please try EasyBCD creator - which is a GUI driven bootloader editor compatible with just about every operating system around, from Windows to Linux and Mac. EasyBCD will drastically reduce the amount of preparation required to modify any loader and make recover much easier in the somewhat likely event you take a misstep.

    You can download EasyBCD here:

    http://neosmart.net/dl.php?id=1

    And find documentation on its use here:

    http://neosmart.net/wiki/display/EBCD/EasyBCD+Documentation+Home;jsessionid=1F288782BBA838E75145B4AA92693F96

  3. James Bruce
    November 17, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Firstly, I'm going to assume you've previously run windows on this hardware before, as windows installs (unlike osx) generally dont like to be simply taken out of one pc and put into another. If you have done, reinstalling is often the only option.

    Try each one individually on the computer to make sure it boots first, ie. put in one, boot, unplug it then put in just the other, and boot that. If you're having problems with that, multi-booting will not be possible anyway.

    If they do both work, you can do either of the methods you suggested - (a) one disk for one OS or (b) multiple partitions on the same disk - though I would recommend using a separate disk for each, especially with windows xp which is quite temperamental.

    What you need is a bootloader that will let you choose either operating system at start up. Grub2 is good for this, and there is lengthy tutorial here: http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/grub-2.html

    However, you might realistically look to upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate edition which includes media center functionality. Without knowing your computer specs though, I couldnt say whether it run acceptably though.

    • Tony
      November 20, 2010 at 6:25 pm

      thanks for the advice. I have used grub before, to install dual boot systems with xp and ubuntu. I will try grub with this system. i appreciate your comments.